Change is upon us. The first day of spring has arrived. Without much in the way of fanfare, I might add. But the days, while still bitter cold, are longer. And are celebrating in their own way. A clutch of currant bushes I had stolen from the heart of a wood lot when I was in looking for a missing sheep had been stuck in a bucket of water last fall, abandoning them to the cold are still mired in ice. However, the under layer of bark is still green and, I suspect, were I to plant them shortly, I'd find their buds beginning to swell.
The biggest of the red currant bushes in the vegetable garden lay some branches on the ground a year or two ago. I put rocks on the spots where they touched the earth and covered the spots with soil. They have taken root. But when is the correct time to sever them from their parent and replant them. And, of course, the next question is to where.
Once again I was nearly too late to order the red Finnish Hinnomaki gooseberries I've been wanting forever. The company was very kind, today, to a good customer and are holding on to the last five bushes that they have in stock while my check arrives. They had only a few black currants left and I am buying those ten as well. That took me for a walk aro9und the still frozen vegetable gardens. Dreaming. Do I get the Hinnomaki red gooseberries in their own plot? There is a small rectangular garden where I've put a pile of flat stones to form a bench where I can sit and look at the garden. The plot behind it might be the perfect place, however it hasn't been dug up yet and might not be the ideal site. The ten black currant bushes already have an ideal place designated for them. There is a triangular shaped garden at the edge of a pasture that had all of the manure from the carriage house one year dumped on it. The earth there is now light and beautiful. Weeds came out at the most simple of pulls. It will be a perfect site. I've ordered some of the vegetable seeds for this summer's garden. Pine Tree is my dream book, and those seeds shall be ordered next week.
The doeling, Sterling Burgess, shows dam, Lucinda MacDouglas, has been until this year, my best milker, is still living in the kitchen. For one more day. She jumped on the kitchen table today, signaling that the moment to leave has arrived. Tomorrow Guiseppi Nunzio Patrick MacGuire, donkey supreme, shall go out to the pasture for the first time this year, and I shall have one less headache getting access to the carriage house to bother her and the two other bottle lambs, Veronica and Pelham Greenville. The buck goat, brother to Sterling Burgess MacDouglas, lives in the carriage house as well. I put his dam, Lucinda, in with him to nurse for part of the day. Adelaide Merriman's son shall remain unnamed because he shall go for meat. She has more milk, at the moment, than Lucinda. They both arrived in the summer of 2002. One was two years old. The other was three. And I don't remember which was which. Therefore, one was nine and the other ten! They don't show their ages. Cameron Lycett-Green, first daughter of my beloved Candida Lycett-Green, Nubian goat is bred and looking quite large these days. She freshened last year with a doeling whom I sold. Cameron will go to a children's camp this summer to be milked and well fed. Her mother, Candida Lycett-Green also didn't breed back this year, shall probably go visiting as well. But younger sister, Cecelia Lycett-Green shall stay home with me. My Ethel Merriman is also looking quite wide this week. And another young doe, who seems to have escaped being named, and is lacking an outstanding personality, also looks bred. She will be named when she freshens but I seem to remember she is of the Merriman line. Then there will be five to milk. Two of whom shall go to the camp, perhaps three, this summer.
I am buying a freezer soon and shall be able to freeze some of the milk. That will either provide me with milk, for cheese or lamb milk replacer for the winter. At twenty-five cents a pound for grain and twelve cents a pound for hay I'm not certain I'm breaking even from this little adventure. They are fed excellent hay all winter. Grain and hay in the spring. Grain in the summer when they are milked. They never do finish the requisite four pounds a day that produces the most milk. Therefore they cost about eighty cents a day in grain, and eight cents more in minerals and hay. When in milk they produce between three and four quarts of milk a day. That gives me about the equivalent of three bucks in cow's milk, twelve dollars in goat milk (Walmart prices) or fourteen dollars in yogurt if I make it, or the equivalent of two pounds of very fancy goat cheese if I make that. Well, I guess it is all in how it is calculated. It usually is in the sale of the kid goats that the edge of profit slips in..
Which brings me to the admission that there is no real profit in this kind of 'sustained' farming because it takes for granted that my labor is free. And the recompense for all of the hours of labor is what is referred to as profit. We are at the very cusp of change here. It is measured in moments. There will be a day when, all of a sudden all focus of energy shall be on the events and life out of doors, rather than inside. I've been trying to get some of the rooms here in order that they function as well as possible need they become ignored shortly. A very pretty all white bedroom is almost perfectly reclaimed. As is my studio. The living room begs only for me to re-examine the pile of papers on the desk that has sat there for seemingly forever. Growing like Topsy.
I make lists. Endlessly. And find them, years later. Crossing things off and dating them. The newest addition is the pretty little porch off of the white bedroom. It may have appeared on a list many years ago when I had a storm door put on and an L-shaped bench on two sides. It is now a subject. I so badly want finished units here. A room complete. Fifteen rooms complete. And have now added still another. Because the white bedroom has been assigned a new use, I want to make its balcony, porch perfect. The appeal is that I don't need anyone to help me do it. Except to install a drop table against the wall, on which to put coffee cups and the new coffee maker I've ordered from San Francisco.
Life has become intense. Almost too much so. Focus and discipline are what is needed. May I achieve them.
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